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Treebeard, by Alan Lee
Trees as art
By Laura Joint
Lord of the Rings artist Alan Lee talks about his affinity with trees and how he loves to draw them.
One of the most memorable scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies is where the forest goes on the march to wreak revenge for the destruction of trees by Saruman and his forces.
Led by the Treebeard, the trees - or ents, as they were called in Tolkien's masterpiece - win the day.
The artwork for the trees in Peter Jackson's trilogy was done by Alan Lee, who lives on Dartmoor.
Alan won an Oscar for his work on the third movie, Return of the King.
Alan Lee at work at his computer
Alan has been telling BBC Devon all about his love of trees, as part of our Autumnwatch 2007 season where we look at trees and what they mean to us.
He was invited to work on the films after director Peter Jackson saw his drawings in the special illustrated centenary edition of Lord of the Rings which was published in 1992 to mark the 100th anniversary of JRR Tolkien's birth.
A number of artists, including Alan, produced drawings of Treebeard for the film before the final sculpture of the giant puppet was created by Daniel Falconer.
All the other ents were drawn by Alan, whose earlier drawings of Treebeard can be seen in the centenary edition of the book.
He explains the process of creating the tree images for the film: "I took close-up photographs of bark of trees on Dartmoor, and they were put into the computer. The photographs were used to create the texture of the ents.
"So the trees were created by a digital model in a computer - they exist only inside the screen."
One of Alan's sketches for Lord of the Rings
Alan loves Dartmoor, and in particular the trees: "I have always had a strong emotional attachment to trees, ever since childhood when I used to love climbing them.
"I saw them as these giant, living creatures. I think Tolkien had this sort of feeling towards trees as well.
"I think trees have an abstract quality. A tree is a real thing and can have character. When you look at a tree, you are looking at the entire history of that tree.
"The more ancient the trees, the more scarred and textured they are, and the more enjoyable they are to draw.
"There are some wonderful trees around the edges of the moor, and around Castle Drogo."
A selection of Alan's tree sketches are included in his book, The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook, which was published on Harper Collins in 2005.
He is currently working on illustrations for a reworking of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which are stories from Greek Mythology retold for children and written by Adrian Mitchell.
Among the illustrations is the story of how Daphne asks her father for help as she tries to deter the advances of Apollo. Her father's answer is to turn her into a laurel tree.
Alan said: "The human aspect of trees seems to appeal to a lot of artists, and it appeals to me very much."
You can find out more about Alan, by clicking onto the links on this page. And our Autumnwatch 2007 section has more features about trees and a gallery where you can send in photos of your favourite tree.
* Images of Treebeard and tree sketch © Alan Lee.
last updated: 10/02/2009 at 17:41